Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 22 November, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to the programme
on the day the Chancellor
delivers his budget,
with a pledge to try
to help new home owners.
For all first-time buyer purchases
up to £300,000 I am abolishing stamp
But Jeremy Corbyn predicts misery
will continue for many.
It is a record of failure with a
promise of more to come.
Also on this programme,
MPs warn the UK could be facing
an epidemic of opiod abuse.
And, in the Lords, Peers demand
action on the plastic
going into our seas.
Can't we have a positive action to
cut down the number of plastic
bottles, they are a disgrace.
But, first, the Chancellor Philip
Hammond took the traditional photo
call outside Number 11 on Wednesday
morning as he prepared
to deliver his autumn budget.
As is tradition, the Chancellor
was flanked by his junior ministers
as he stepped into Downing Street
and held aloft the budget
box, containing that
all important speech.
After smiles and photos
it was into the official car
for the short journey to the Commons
to unveil his plans.
And so the nearly hour long speech,
in which the chancellor announced
he was abolishing stamp duty
for first time buyers on properties
worth up to £300,000 in England,
Wales and Northern Ireland.
There were also announcements
on house building, the controversial
new welfare payment
Universal Credit, and funding
for England's NHS.
But Philip Hammond began
with the preparations for Brexit.
We have already invested almost £700
million in Brexit preparations.
And today I am setting
aside over the next two
years another £3 billion.
And I stand ready to allocate
further sums if and when needed.
But the budget he said
was about much more than Brexit.
It was he insisted a budget
for the future, to prepare to meet
the challenges ahead.
A country fit for the future. I know
we will not build it overnight but
we will lay the foundations. Mr
Deputy Speaker, I am being tempted
with something more exotic but I
will stick with water. I took the
precaution. I did take the
precaution of asking my right
honourable friend to bring a packet
of cough sweets just in case.
Conservative MPs roared,
but the next section of the speech
was less light-hearted
as the Chancellor revealed
figures from the Office
for Budget Responsibility predicting
slower growth in coming years.
And regrettably, our productivity
performance continues to disappoint.
The old BR has assumed that each of
the last 16 physical events that
productivity growth would return to
its pre-crisis trend of about 2% a
year but it has remained stubbornly
flat. Today the revised down the
outlook for productivity growth,
business investment and GDP growth
across the forecast period.
Moving on to specific announcements,
Philip Hammond said there'd be
a rise in the personal allowance
on income tax to £11,850,
a 28 pence a packet rise in the cost
of cigarettes and a freeze
in most alcohol duties.
In other measures, he'd look
at a tax on single use plastic
items, put £540 million
into supporting the growth
of electric cars, and give schools
and colleges £600 for each new pupil
taking maths at A-level.
And there'd be tweaks to the new
welfare benefit Universal Credit.
MPs on all sides have warned
that the six week wait before
new claimants receive their payments
was pushing people into
debt and rent arrears.
First, we will remove the seven-day
waiting period applied at the
beginning of a benefit claim sole
entitlement will begin on the day of
the claim. To provide greater
support during the waiting period we
will change the advances system to
make sure any period that needs it
can access a film on's payment
within five days of applying. We
will make it possible to apply for
an advance online. We will extend
the payment period for the dancers
from six months to 12 months, and
any new Universal Credit claimant in
receipt of housing benefit at the
time of the claim will continue to
receive that for a further two
England's NHS has lobbied hard
for more money and Philip Hammond
said he recognised the system
was under pressure.
I am therefore exceptionally and it
said the spending review process
making an additional commitment of
funding of £2.8 billion to the NHS
He also told MPs talks were under
way about a pay rise for nurses.
But the surprise announcement came
at the end of the Speech.
Philip Hammond said there'd be
£44 billion in overall government
support for housing to meet target
of building 300,000 new homes a year
by the middle of the next decade.
With effect from today, for all
first-time buyer purchases up to
£300,000, I am abolishing stamp duty
When the din had died down,
he said that would be a cut for 95%
of all first time buyers who pay
stamp duty, though the measure
doesn't apply in Scotland.
Well, it's down to the Leader
of the Opposition, not
the shadow chancellor,
to reply to the budget.
With little time to absorb
the announcements it's seen
as on of the toughest
Jeremy Corbyn said the test
of any budget was how it
affected people's lives.
A lot of people will be no better
off and the misery that many add-in
will be continuing. Pay, Mr Speaker,
is now lower than it was in 2010 and
wages are now falling again.
Economic growth in the first three
quarters of this year is the lowest
since 2009 and the slowest of the
major economies in the G-7. It is a
record of failure with a forecast of
more to come.
He argued schools in England
would be worse off,
and the government had missed
the opportunity to act on capping
credit card debt and boosting
social care funding.
Jeremy Corbyn said over a million
older people weren't getting
the care they needed and he reacted
angrily to a heckle
from a Conservative MP.
Over 6 billion will have been cut
from social care budgets by next
March. I hope the honourable member
begins to understand what it is like
to wait for social care, stuck in a
hospital bed, with other people
having to give up the work to care
for them. The uncaring, uncouth
attitude of certain members...
And on housing Jeremy Corbyn
reckoned we'd heard it all before.
The government promised 200,000
starter homes three years ago. Not a
single one has yet been built in
those three years. We need a large
scale publicly funded house-building
programme, not this government's
accounting tricks and empty
promises. We back the abolition of
stamp duty for first-time buyers
because it was another Labour policy
in our manifesto in June, not a Tory
People he concluded had been let
down by a government that was weak
and unstable and in need of change.
The SNP Westminster group leader
was equally gloomy saying
there'd been a "shredding"
of growth forecasts."
And it's a threat to the wages, to
the living standards and to the job
prospects are people up and down the
United Kingdom. Frankly, it is a
government that should be ashamed of
And he insisted Scotland
would be worse off.
Before the winds of Brexit head is,
the starting position for millions
of people is that by then we will
already have been struggling with
nine years posterity. The cuts being
imposed on public services mean
service delivery is impacted and
public service workers in particular
are feeling the squeeze. This is a
budget that choose the Chancellor is
either blind to what is going on or
he is behaving like a frightened
rabbit caught in the headlights.
Ian Blackford and debate
on the budget continues
for another four days.
Well, the big moment
on a Wednesday is usually
Prime Minister's Questions.
On Budget Day, though, it is merely
a curtain-raiser for the Chancellor.
But despite second billing, PMQs did
deliver a surprise of its own -
the Leader of the Opposition's six
questions are almost
always a Brexit-free zone,
but not this time.
Mr Speaker, the Irish Prime Minister
who has discussed Brexit with the
British government says sometimes it
doesn't seem like they have got all
this through. So can the Prime
Minister reassure him by clearly
outlining the government's policy on
the Irish border?
We are very clear,
first of all that in relation to the
movement of people the Common travel
area will continue to operate as it
has done since 1923, and on trade
and movement of goods across the
border we will not see a hard border
being introduced. We have been very
Yesterday, the Foreign
Secretary said there could be no
border, that would be unthinkable,
and that may be but they have had 17
months to come up with an answer to
this question and that is still no
answer to the question because they
have not engaged with the
We have been
engaged fully in the negotiations in
relation to Northern Ireland and
other issues, and indeed significant
progress has been made, and that is
why for example I have said that we
have got agreement on the operation
of the Common travel area for the
future. He says we haven't put
forward any ideas about the board
that aren't actually we published a
paper in the summer about the
possible custom arrangements.
EU's chief negotiator said this week
the UK financial sector will lose
its current rights to trade with
Europe. It seems neither EU
negotiators nor the government have
any idea where this is going. Last
week the Brexit secretary said he
would guarantee free movement for
bankers post Brexit. Are there any
other groups to whom the Prime
Minister believes freedom of
movement should apply? Nurses,
doctors, teachers, scientists,
agricultural workers, who?
I'm very interested the honourable
gentleman has found that his
appearances at prime ministers
questions have been going so well
he's borrowed a question from the
leader of the Liberal Democrats
which he asked me last week. Perhaps
the Leader of the Opposition should
pay a little more attention to what
happens in Prime Minister 's
questions. We have been absolutely
clear that we will be introducing
new immigration laws and as we
introduce those we will take account
of the needs of the petition economy
in doing so that is why my friend
Mike the Home Secretary has asked
the migration advisory committee to
advise those areas where we need to
pay attention to migration. We want
to get on to deal with the question
of the future trading relationship
that we have with the European Union
but we also... I am also optimistic
about the opportunities that will be
available to this country and about
the deal they can get from the
negotiations we are having. The
honourable gentleman can't even
decide whether he wants to be in the
single customs union or out of it,
he needs to get his act together.
Isn't the truth this government has
no energy, no agreed plan and no
strategy to deliver a good Brexiter
I'm optimistic about our
future. I'm optimistic about the
success we can make of Brexited. I'm
optimistic about the well-paid jobs
that will be created. I'm optimistic
about the homes we will build. That
is Conservatives building a Britain
fit for the future.
Canny Brahman is
to tell the house how many jobs have
been lost this week with the
departure of the European medicines
authority and the European banking
authority from London?
We are seeing
those particular two agencies leave
the United Kingdom and go elsewhere
in the EU. When he talks about the
number of jobs being created we have
seen under this government 3 million
jobs being created. That is a record
I would've thought he would be to
You're watching Wednesday
in Parliament, with me,
The UK could be facing
an "epidemic" of opiod abuse.
That was the warning from an MP
following thousands of deaths
in the United States linked
to the synthetic opiod, fentanyl,
a painkiller many times
stronger then heroin.
The threat was raised in a debate
in Westminster Hall.
The epidemic of drug overdoses in
America is killing people at almost
double the rate of both firearm and
motor vehicle related deaths.
Between 1999 and 2015 it is
estimated that fentanyl and it's to
River Teise have killed
approximately 300,000 people in the
US during that time. These numbers
are of virtual biblical proportions.
My concerns are... When the US
sneezes the UK catches a cold so I
am concerned we may be on the brink
of a fentanyl outbreak here.
But Mr Mackinlay opposed any
liberalisation of current drug laws.
I feel that we should be upping our
game in three strands of work. That
is education in schools, colleges
and universities. I'd like to see
significantly increased sentences
for drug supply. And I feel that we
should be giving some thought now,
as we cope or potentially have to
cope with fentanyl and similar
lethal derivatives. Perhaps by
creating a new class, a double-A
class of these really truly lethal
Other speakers recognised
the threat, but a former
Justice Minister said the so-called
war on drugs had been
an unmitigated disaster.
So, I say to my honourable friend,
instead of doubling down on a
failing policy and demanding yet
more higher sentences for particular
parts of the supply chain... The
failing policy, an example he gave,
has led to the highest level of
opioid drug deaths since records
began. We should be learning from
decriminalisation and public health
approaches in other countries. In
Portugal for example where the
possession of small amount of drugs
has been decriminalised since 2001,
step well short of licensing and
regulation, usage rates are amongst
the lowest in Europe.
Let's treat it
as a health issue not a criminal
justice issue. Let's accept across
our country the principle of safer
drug consumption rooms. They are
already saving lives in eight
European countries. In Canada,
Australia it is endorsed by the BMA.
No one dies of an overdose in a drug
consumption room. Let's accept that
evidence and apply it in this
country before we continue the
carnage of loss of life that we are
mean a free for all where drugs are
available. Current laws have already
achieved via. We have to take the
control away from the Chronicle
fraternity. The war on drugs has
killed innocent and made the guilty
rich. It has destroyed communities
and compound of the difficulties
faced in addressing addiction
problems. The UK government spends
1.6 alien pounds a year and drug law
enforcement and as was pointed out
earlier and even the government know
their drug policy has failed.
minister cannot come before us today
and honestly believe his government
are improving services and seriously
addressing this issue when they are
overseeing such a significant cuts
that are rolling back provision and
Replying the minister said
an ambitious drugs strategy had been
unveiled earlier this year.
Deaths linked to fentanyl
contaminated heroin have been seen
in parts of the UK and he gave us a
graphic illustration of the impact
in certain parts of the US which I
agree with him is extremely
worrying. These underline the
importance of vigilance and strong
enforcement action by the police and
National Crime Agency as well as
accessible treatment and the
availability of life-saving
Five people with disabilities
and long-term illnesses have been
sharing the difficulties they've
applying for benefits.
The Work and Pensions Committee
is examining the assessment process
for Employment and Support Allowance
and Personal Independence Payments,
for people with disabilities
and long-term illnesses.
I got run over by a car and had
major nerve damage in my left leg.
It has caused me a disability. I
have got a fused hip. I went to a
tribunal, was only scored seven
points, and then I got reassessed
within three weeks and was granted
Amanda Browning was diagnosed with
chronic fatigue syndrome in 2008.
When I first applied for benefits,
it was 2009 and I've had half a
dozen plus assessments. My last two
have been very difficult. ESA
assessment I had in 2016 initially I
was taken off benefits. And I won my
appeal in 2017 and put back on.
got multiple sclerosis. I've had it
since 1993. And I was receiving
Disability Living Allowance at the
higher rate for both.
She was reassessed when DLA
was replaced by PIP.
I received high rate mobility
standard rate care.
Denise Martin hasn't
worked since 2011.
I also, like my colleague, moved
over from DLA to PIP last year and I
lost my mobility element. I didn't
say sorry I've got fibromyalgia,
bipolar and spinal issues.
childhood Cancer survivor with dual
sensory loss. I previously lived in
Northern Ireland for many years. And
I didn't have any difficulties with
my benefits there. I received DLA
and ESA. When I moved over here, I
applied for ESA and PIPs. I applied
for both of those in January of this
year. And the process for both of
them was extremely frustrating and
very disappointing, a lot of
problems, different problems with
both of them.
Then it was the turn of MPs
to introduce themselves.
I'm really sorry for
being late, the trains were awful.
Can we accept Heidi's apology
because if she was sent to a
Jobcentre... She would have been
Turning to the application
process, Frank Field asked
about filling the forms in.
How many of you sought help and what
sort of help did you get?
help. I looked at it and cried. It
was so daunting to be frightened
about what to put down.
After the application
comes the assessment.
Natalie McGinn sid she was
by her PIP assessor.
It was very, very obvious to me that
the assessor had no deaf awareness.
She didn't strike me as being very
professional and having very good
disability awareness. She didn't
seem to be very understanding or
experienced of the difficulties that
The problems I've had with
ESA, she was always smiling, she was
almost like a smiling assassin. She
was saying I was here to help you,
to do this and do that. I was pushed
into the examination room in a
wheelchair. She then said I could
walk 50 metres.
I endeavoured to
work most of my life. This isn't a
choice that we make easily. It is
all stacked against us, you know?
And predominantly I've a mental
illness that affects me quite
severely. It's really, really tough.
In his budget the Chancellor said
he and the Environment Secretary,
Michael Gove would look at how
the taxes and charges could be used
to reduce plastic waste.
It follows the introduction of a 5p
charge on single use carrier bags,
which is credited with driving down
use by 85%.
Now there are calls to bring
in a levy on plastic drinks bottles
and disposable coffee cups.
In the Lords, Peers reckoned that
couldn't come too soon.
Did you see the alarming findings of
the BBC's programme into the
disposable plastics and the effects
described in the teller? Blue planet
programme on marine life? What
advice is the government giving to
local authorities and others to deal
more creatively with the disposable
of plastics and the replacement of
plastics by materials that can be
recycled more easily?
My Lords, I
didn't have the privilege of seeing
that particular programme although I
hear it was extremely good so I
regret not seeing it. The noble Lord
is right to focus attention on some
of the challenges that are being
faced. We are improving our position
as a nation. There is much to do. We
are in favour of upping the targets
that are being looked at. And not
yet announced to what that will be,
that improvement. 60% is the target
but that will be upped. He's right
about the problem with marine
challenges which is something we are
looking at and also black plastic
two which is a particular problem
which we have a working group
Could the Minister say
something about the millions of
plastic bottles that can't be
recycled and are being put into
waste? Can't we have positive action
to cut down the number of plastic
bottles? They are a disgrace.
noble Lord will be aware of the
Chancellor has announced we will be
looking at how we can tackle the
particular problem perhaps through
taxation in relation to single use
plastics. In relation to bottles
come there is a challenge there. We
beat ourselves up to much. In 2000,
13,000 tonnes of plastic wattles
were recycled. In 2016, that was
343,000 tonnes. There is much to do
but we are on track my Lords.
And that's it from me for now,
but do join me at the same time
tomorrow for another round up
of the day at Westminster as that
budget debate continues,
but for now from me, goodbye.